Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Breaking Bad: Caballo Sin Nombre - It Puts The Chemical In The Eyeball

The minute you saw the mysterious 'cousins' in the premiere, you were like right, they're going to get closer and closer to Walt before finally facing off with him in the finale. Because that's how TV, and movies for that matter, usually do things. Well we got ours.

- Another largely character centric episode. Not as strong as last week, but it had its moments.

- Saul, the fake jewish lawyer, returned this week and was fairly awesome. Loved the scene with him owning Jesse's parents and their high priced lawyer in regards to robbing their property, with sheer douchebaggery. Both his and Jesse's. Who is a little like Sayid these days, cold and fairly evil. Jesse pulled the trigger, but Saul took the pleasure in the kill. Smooth tag-teaming guy. Bob Odenkirk rules in this role.

- So the cousins found Walt. In episode 2. With a badass shiny axe. Only Giancarlo Esposito and his mean texting abilities saved Walt's ass, but as always this show is impossible to predict.

- Am liking Anna Gunn's portrayal of Skyler a bit more this season, despite Walt's rather blatant villainy, he's coming across the good guy in his divorce on account of his wife kindly not revealing he's a meth dealer to his son. Yet Walt revels in the pity anyway.

" I read that renovating your house increases its value in erm, I want to say Time magazine"

- I love how this show manages to be darkly funny in spite of all the heavy drama. Its kind of what makes it genius.

- Having said that, the brunt of the episode was almost too contemplative. Saved by an intense last 15 minutes.

- Pizza on the roof sees everything.

- The return of Tio. and his bell. Man was that an awesome episode back in season 2. With Tuco. Oh nostalgia. I loved how the cousins got this mute old guy to spell out Walt's name on a ouija borad. Metaphors much?

- A confident filler episode, but we're still dealing with the cliffhanger of Walt's broken marriage. There are new fields to mine guys, as much as I do love the serious acting on this show.

- A solid outing. Not spectacular, but worked in the right places.

Rating: 7/10


Everytime a male critic went to review Sex And The City back in 2008, he would usually preface a subsequent trashing by saying something like, "Now this film isn't meant for me, but.." and that's kind of how I feel about Shank. I know what I saw was shite, but was it shite because it was straight up shite, or simply because it has nothing I look for when I go to the movies but for its targeted Chav generation, it might appeal.

But fuck it, I refuse to engage in complex apologetics for a film I didn't remotely like. I respect that the chav folk get a bad rep in the movies, either devils dressed in hoodies or profoundly stupid sight gags to point and laugh at. Shank gives them the chance to make their case, in which Kidulthood is their Goodfellas and Tony Scott is their Scorcese. Director Mo Ali certainly takes more then one leaf from the T Scott guide to over intrusive and glib visual stylization , but for the kind of movie Shank is and the level of intelligence he is operating on. I guess I can understand. Its not like the acting is going to be the draw here, nor the quality of the writing or strength of the story, a painfully simplistic revenge tale, and he had to make it distinctive in some way. I can't go much further without mentioning Skins' Kaya Scodelario's awesome accent of the street in which her innate poshness, clearly only one or two notches below Keira Knightley levels of Englishness, is too powerful to contain. My favorite thing about the movie by a long way. Otherwise its just people walking around saying 'nah mate' and freestyling for no reason. One guy does an improv beatbox less then 20 minutes after his best friend was murdered. Its crazy.

For me Shank is a bad movie. A very bad movie. It makes about as much sense as people who think Avatar is a masterpiece (none) but for all is faults, it went for something. A chav's post-apocalyptic fantasy maybe, but it showed ambition and that is to be commended. Its a shame it missed in nearly every way.

Rating: 4/10

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Next Week's Movies

Clash Of The Titans: Balls. But fair play to Liam Neeson for delivering ' Release The kraaken' with a straight face. Expectancy Level: 5/10

Remember Me: Pattinson shoots for James Dean levels of iconic. With Claire from Lost no less. Let the poser make his play. Expectancy Level: 6/10

FYI: Hopefully a review of Shank up midweek, I kind of destroyed next week by seeing previews of Kick Ass and Dragon this week. FUCK. Shit be messed up man.

REVIEW: Kick-Ass

Fuck. I really didn't want this to happen. Not again. First there was Zombieland, where the rest of the the world saw an amalgamation of awesome featuring two parts treacly irony and one part Woody Harrelson killing things with a spade, I saw a two-parts half-assed, intermittently funny movie with some good qualities but a few bad ones. And one part Woody Harrelson killing shit with a spade. Then there was Avatar which the world collectively moistened for, with the words 'best movie ever' being bandied about and people literally blowing their brains out because Pandora didn't actually exist. Me? I saw a movie version of one of the PS one Final Fantasies, with about the same level of dialogue. Alas, I am destined be the blogger version of Dr James Wilson. A buzzkill forever. And even as you curse my kill joying name, I think I'm going to do this to Kick Ass too. Although to a lesser extent.

Because I did like Kick-Ass. I honestly did. And if it was just some movie I saw, I probably would have written a glowing review. But no, people had to jump on their soapbox calling it a genre masterpiece, giving it five stars and shit and now I feel compelled to call out the overrated card. I don't want to, but my inner pedantic asshole says I must and who am I to argue with that dude. So here's the deal. Kick-Ass pitches itself as almost the Scream of the super-hero genre, a revisionist take on old material, in which it rips it lovingly whilst giving some good superhero action on its merit. Its no Scream, it has not the sense of nostalgia, the wit or the cleverness. And to be honest, the dorky teen kid discovering his manhood and getting the girl by killing stuff is something that barely escapes jerk-off fantasy, yet its done here and not in a way that I particularly cared for. Aaron Johnson tries, and has an earnestness about him that's hard to entirely hate, but the character is too duller cutout and its almost as if the movie forgot itself so Mark Millar could live out his irrelevant cheerleader banging fantasy, which is almost entirely forgotten for the final act, the film's best, yet we spend way too much time with it, which certainly anesthetized my buzz.

This a shame, because the stuff with Nicolas Cage's Big Daddy and Chloe Moretz's Hitgirl is beyond awesome. Its the right mixture of twisted and eclectic, and the action that either of them is involved in ( particularly Hitgirl) is too entertaining for words. It seems like a cheap joke to have an 11 year old girl make like Chow Yun Fat, but its one that fucking works. If the movie had been their story, I'd probably be writing a 9/10 review right now, but as its stands the movie gets too caught up with Johnson, and similarly I'm not convinced that Christopher Mintze-Plasse has anything more to offer then his McLovin archetype. And Mark Strong's gangster villain was way too generic for a film of this kind. He's not bad or anything, but the movie deserved something a bit better. In fact, as a comedy, Kick-ass hits and misses, as a genre pastiche it pretty much misses, aside from an awesome joke of Kick-Ass getting, erm, taken down quite badly on his first heroic venture (I don't want to spoil the movie's best joke.) As an action movie, however, It fucking owns. I've not seen killing on camera been done with such inventiveness and glee in a long time, and also these scenes seem to coincide with Cage and Moretz being on screen, and when they are I too am watching the film that everyone else is seeing.

For me, the film is a broad, flawed but entertaining ride. A monolithic guilty pleasure but only a good movie. For me at least. The buzzkill has had its day.

Rating: 7/10

REVIEW: How To Train Your Dragon

I'll admit I saw this just to fill out the cinema day. I had no real interest or investment and like all CGI films that aren't made by Pixar, it looked OK, but gave me no real reason to see it as a grown ass man and not a 7 year old. But in that entirely plasticated kids movie way, I left with a big shallow smile on my face and the thing had enough personality and charm to get by.

Jay Baruchel voices Hiccup, the subtly named oddball in his Viking community, full of giant men trying to kill dragons for awesomeness' sake. Hiccup doesn't fit in, so naturally he befriends a giant reptilian predator and wacky dragonized hijinks ensue. I like Baruchel, and he lands a welcome dryness in his delivery, which prevents Hiccup from the kind of insipid little shit that kids who crack wise can be, so that was nice. Similarly the dragon flying sequences capture that innocent sense of wonder that you want from this kind of thing. Simple yet strangely beautiful. The plot of the film runs like disney clockwork and you know exactly what will happen, that the feisty little viking girl with the voice of Ugly Betty will drop her girl power pretense and become weak at the knees for our heroic little twirp. Because that's the way it will always be. That the dragon's are not fiery monsters of the skies, but kittens in scaly clothing how just really want to be our pets, and not kill us. Which makes them a 100% less awesome in my book.

But enough ragging, its a simple enjoyable kids movie that feels a little less factory assembled then most. Also, contains some Gerard Butler voice work as the viking in chief. It may be his best performance of the year. Butler power.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, 26 March 2010

REVIEW: Extract

I think I had a very similar reaction to Extract as I did to Mike Judge's most successful film prior to this, Office Space. It's funny, cleverly satirical and enjoyable without being all that great. They both mildly intrigued me and approached their subject matter cleverly, the jokes make you smile and the performances are good. But my theory is Judge is a little too polite when he should be biting. That seems to be a silly thing to say in a film where a man pays a gigolo to have an affair with his wife so he can sleep around guilt free, and a dude literally has his balls cut off by the emasculating workplace ( metaphors are awesome!) but still. Judge has a little too much sympathy for his characters to really hammer the nail home, which in satire is something you really need to do if you want what you're doing to land.

But I enjoyed Extract. I appreciated what it tried to do, and a film with Jason Bateman in the lead role is certainly going to get some love from me. The Arrested Development alum is perfect for the role of the self-righteous but frustrated and uptight Joel. His skills of communicating exasperation are second to none, honed no doubt from three years of reacting to ridiculousness on AD, so what could have been quite a 2D role where the main character is the lead just because he is, Bateman makes much more empathetic then he could have been. But, somewhat awesomely, Extract becomes the second film in history, after the overrated Shakespeare In Love, to be stolen by Ben Affleck. Yes I've seen Daredevil and Gigli and know that as a leading man, Affleck is smug and intolerable. But I refuse to be entirely cynical about him because I think he can act, and he's a great here as Bateman's amoral hippy best friend. Most of the movies laughs come courtesy of Affleck, so fair play to the dude. Also kudos to Kristen Wiig, who takes the every disposable wife/girlfriend role and is pretty funny without having all that much to do. The supporting cast is full of reliable players too, which is always great to see. J.K Simmons, Beth Grant and Clifton Collins Jr, who may be the best actor in Hollywood that nobody has ever heard of. His performance in Capote was almost as good as Philip Seymour Hoffman's and he does what he can with his good 'ol boy hick. Mila Kunis gets a bit lost in the crowd as a nifty con-woman, but she's OK. Her looks still outpace her talent but its an improvement.

Judge script is the kind that you like but don't love, much like his films really. It has plenty of clever concepts, a few good lines and plenty of funny performances. But you'll never need or want to see it again, because its just not quite cutting enough.

Rating: 6/10

REVIEW: Perrier's Bounty

For his relative worth, Guy Ritchie had a poisonous effect onUK (and Irish) cinema. Here we are 12 years since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels surprised the world by not being total shit, and he is still getting ripped off. To be fair, I would imagine the success of In Bruges had more then something to do with this, that for all its attempted intellectual and comic posturing is unfunny, boring and as gratingly familiar as the worst Jennifer Aniston Romantic comedy.

The film follows Cillian Murphy as he scrambles around trying to find the money he owes local loan shark Brendan Gleeson. The usual wacky gangster hijinks ensue. The only reason this film wasn't a forgettable straight to DVD bottom shelfer is the cast it somehow attracted, which I would imagine is down to a bunch of strong, respected Irish actors jumping at the chance to use their actual accents. Aside from Murphy and Gleeson, there's also Jim Broadbent, Gabriel Byrne and Jodie Whittaker. Which is a fairly impressive haul for an Irish gangster movie, and while its fun to watch Murphy and Broadbent to riff of each other, or Gleeson to his wise criminal routine, the turgidness of the material can't be hidden, no matter how good the actors that deliver it. I was bored with this movie 10 years ago, and absence has not made the heart grow fonder.

I guess if a Guy Ritchie film is in your top ten, you may enjoy this movie, but if that is the case you clearly have much bigger problems then your film taste.

Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Lost: Ab Aeterno - The World's Forgotten Boy

Back in the early days of Lost, you know the really early days when the show was about a group of people surviving on an island. The first time a character got a flashback episode was a big deal. And given the amount of time left to go, this may will be the last origin story we ever see on Lost, and since this format is what brought us to the show in the first place, lets take a moment to savour that. Done? Let's do this.

- For the first time in season 6 thus far, we broke the flash-sideways pattern. And it was awesome. That tac has worn more then thin over the last couple of weeks, so I'm glad for the rest bite. As an exposition-fest slash character piece it was classic Lost. Not the best episode ever, but a very good one, and give the unsung well of talent that is Nestor Carbonell a chance to act the stuff.

- It was an episode long flashback, like Flashes before you're eyes or The Life and Death Of Jeremy Bentham, and nigh on every frame was Alpert-centric.

- Of course if You ignore the episode's opening 5 minutes or so, which made you think it was going to be Ilana. But no. We just went back for one scene of Ilana, which felt a cheat. Which it was, but the rest of the episode was too good for me too care.

- Black Rock! We finally got the origin story for everyone's favorite shipwrecked hunk of junk. And Alpert was on it. Back in the 1800's, when this dude was a slave for us friendly Brits...

- ...because he accidentally killed his village doctor when stealing some medicine.

-...to save his wife, who has some kind of plague like illness. But it was in vain, because the bitch died anyway.

- So yeah, black rock shipwrecks, and the soldiers rinse all the slaves, then the black smoke rinses the soldiers. Leaving only Alpert behind. Lost does scenes of slaughter fairly awesomely.

- The scene of Alpert chained inside the black rock hull was awesome. Classic horror movie shit.

- The episode was basically what every episode of season 6 has been about, which is the focus character choosing between evil Locke or Jacob. Here evil Locke was seen as his original self, played with a nice controlled malice by Titus Welliver.

- I enjoyed Carbonell's performance quite a bit, and is one of the most intelligent actors on Lost and thus I enjoyed the episode quite a bit too, and if this is to be the Last Lost origin story, its a decent way to go out.

- The hurley/Alpert's wife/alpert scene at the end was pretty sweet. Could have been naff as fuck, but Carbonell's sincerity saved it.

- This was an episode more about filling in the blanks then going forward, but I feel next week shit needs to get going, as good as this was.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, 22 March 2010

Breaking Bad: No Mas - The Joint 50th Worst Plane Crash In American History

Awesome. I took exactly a nanosecond of this season premiere to remind me why I love this show so much. Breaking Bad has always done the cold open fantastically, but I think this one is FTW. See for yourself.

- Most of the episode though, as the best ones always are, focused on character and more specifically, Walt's ability to deny and rationalize what he is, and its a darkly funny as it is horrifying. It seems the worst kind of monster doesn't think what he's doing is wrong.

- Some Prime Bryan Cranston moments in this episode. Fans of Mad Men always complain that this guy always beats Jon Hamm to the emmy, but seriously, watch this episode and you'll see why. Walt's speech at the grief assembly might be my favorite scene of any TV show all year. As kids and teachers express their grief in the traditional ways

" I don't understand why god would do this? "

" Keep it secular honey."

Walt responds with a barbed and self-serving attempt at providing some persepective. Sure the planes crashed, but no-one on the ground died. The planes were only two-thirds full. There have been 50 crashes worldwide so much worse then this. It was cringe-inducing in the most perfect way, as everyone looked at him with horrified distain. Because this man would believe and do or say anything then acknowledge that he is not the bad guy. In my second linkage of the day. (I'm sorry, it was all so good.)

- It wasn't the quickest of episodes, but for some reason my favorite episodes of BB seem to be the introspective ones. It does them so well. When an TV deals with a theme like the necessity of accepting who you are and what you've done, its usually so trite and spelled out. But this show manages to do it in a way that literally has me prefferring the episodes where nothing happens. That is great TV. Just look how poignant this show can allow the making of a sandwich to be.

- Walt seems to have lost his family, getting kicked out and feeling sorry for himself in a motel. Loved his scene with Jesse at the end.

- Walt's wife Skylar finally rumbles what her husband is here. And rather then play it out, its a quick scene, and one in which Walt thinks that simply revealing the truth will win his wife back. Because its not like what he's doing is wrong right, after all he's just a manufacturer not a dealer, and that difference matters. Anna Gunn kind of gets forgotten in all the praise of the men on this show, but she's great just the same.

- Some awesome Jesse stuff here too, particularly with his rehab meeting leader. Sure it was a little similar to Bubbles and that texan dude from the wire, but fuck it was great drama just the same. He may be a prick, but he's an honest prick.

- The there's the cousins, two ganagsters from Mexico who are headed to put and end to 'heisenberg' and all his dealings. Kind of like a photosynthesised Anton Chigurh, with two heads instead of one. Wordless and badass, I look forward to more of them.

- More Giancarlo Esposito tonight, and his scene with Walt was fairly awesome, as the guy tried to make a claim for the last of his humanity.

- All I can say is watch this show yourself. You fucking need to be watching it.

- Walt falling into the pool was LOL.

Rating: 9/10

Breaking Bad Season 3

I have mixed feelings about regularly covering too many TV shows, so my usual policy is to just to do an all-inclusive review at the end of each season, which there will be a glut of soo enough as every show awesomely finishes at the same time. But for my absolutely favorite shows I'll make an exception. I already have done with Lost, and this is the second show to add to the mix. Depending on your feelings about Mad Men, Breaking Bad might just be the best show currently on the air, its certainly my favorite. Hence coverage. Anyways. To number one.

Friday, 19 March 2010

TV REVIEW: Dollhouse Season 2

A second season of Dollhouse really had no right to exist. It's ratings were always abysmal, and its not like its first season reviews were particularly astounding. Plus, it was a Joss Whedon show on the Fox network, which surely meant it wasn't long for this world. You all know about Fox's history right, with the whole cancelling Arrested Development and Firefly thing. As much as I love Arrested Development, I don't hold too much hate on that one. AD got three seasons, primetime scheduling and several chances but nobody watched it. It was too clever for its time. With Whedon's Firefly though, Fox fucked up. They screwed with the airing order, gave it a death slot and cancelled it before it had time to find an audience. Then it became a massive cult hit and boy did they look stupid. Hence the existence of Dollhouse season 2. Fox owed Whedon one, and now their debt is repaid. Because its second year was watched by even less people then its first. Which is a shame, because there was more to this year then the last.

It became a much smarter show then it was at first, exploring the possibilities of its premise with more nous and less a sci-fi spin on Alias. Whedon brought more complexity to the table, both in its ideas and in its characters and thus it makes the loss of this show something more galling then had it gone last year. Sure its not perfect, the creaks and the compromises still exist and its not the show it could have been if it were on cable say, but as with all Whedon shows, its the level of creative energy that makes it worth the ride. Having said that, season 2 started with a clunk. Its first episode, "Vows", was disappointing, and the next two weren't much better. But with its fourth episode ' Belonging' it broke the ever problematic Echo goes on a mission pattern that never quite worked. Once it re-aligned its focus to its characters, things improved. And drastically. Episodes such as 'The Left Hand', ' the Attic' and 'Getting Closer' were straight-up great television, full to tipping point with questions of identity, (something the show has always quietly done well, at times way above its station. Its kind of awesome that the most intellectually intruiging show of 2009 was an action series starring Faith the vampire slayer) genuinely suprising twists and even a fair amount of people getting shot. So everybody wins. Without once compensating for the fact that they came out of a supposed clunker of a show.

I don't think it turned out to be what Whedon perhaps originally intended, as one could make the argument that this show just became about a makeshift family of heroes fighting evil, aka a Sci-fi Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but there was enough intelligence and innovative character development here for me not to mind this. Particularly with Fran Kranz's Topher, who in the first season was obnoxious, irritating and perhaps the show's greatest shortcoming. Yet by the end of the year, Dollhouse turned its biggest failing into one of its greatest strengths, with Kranz's arc perhaps my favorite thing about this season 2, perhaps because of how much it improved.

The show has a deceptively strong cast too, with some great work from Olivia Williams, Harry Lennix and in particular Enver Gjokaj as Victor who showed the kind of range and general awesomeness that almost every scene involving him was a treat. A couple of nifty guest turns from Whedon alums Summer Glau, Alexis Denisof and of course the returning Alan Tudyk created an almost impossible scenario in which a mythos-heavy show could be most enjoyed for its performances. But the main problem still remained. And that's Eliza Dushku. I was willing to cut her some slack for the first season, but this year as everyone grew into their roles and the show became something teetering on great, her sheer wrongness for this role came more noticeably to light. Dushku can be a good actress, but in a very limited range, so she really came unstuck in Dollhouse. Its a shame because if the show had been headlined perhaps by a less bankable but more talented actress, it really could have been something.

But, hell. It's a sci-fic action show that explores philosophy intelligently, character eloquently and never forgets to be entertaining. So what if there's bumps in the road if you're being taken to so many interesting places.

Rating: 7/10

TV REVIEW: Dexter Season 4

This season of TV finished about three months ago or thereabouts, so calling this review belated is lending myself an undue kindness. But what can I say I got caught up with other things. So beginning the catch up stretch of TV reviewing, the fourth season of Dexter. The show certainly has its fans, and those who insist its still the best show on television. Then there's the people that would say its repetitive, formulaic and frustrating. I think I might be somewhere in the middle, but I don't love Dexter anymore. I certainly used to, back in the season one days, but I see the haters argument, particularly on account of the horrible third season, which was almost redundant to itself.

The show relies on convenience too often, in which things work out fine for Dexter just because they do, and its insistence on returning to its status quo rather then grow as a show has certainly cost its some points from me. Dexter faces off with the guest star, gets seduced by them midseason before killing them in the finale. This happened enough times to get the show to the point where nothing matters anymore because you know everything always works out for Dexter. The fourth season I think, was a return to form, not outstandingly so, but things went back on the right track. The guest star thing still stands, but for the first time it actually worked, after the misfires of Lila and Miguel Prado. John Lithgow, who most viewers will know from 3rd Rock From The Sun, is pretty much awesome. I wouldn't go quite so far to say he's the only reason why this fourth season was stronger then the past couple, but he's the most vital one.

I wouldn't say the writing is any better, or that the voice-over is any less grating (it used to be so awesome.) But Lithgow's presence seems to re-energize both the show and Michael C Hall, who does his best work in a long time opposite Lithgow. Episodes such as 'Hungry Man' and the finale ' the Getaway' were glimpses as to to what this show can be when its on its game. The police procedural aspect though, is still as boring as fuck. Nobody cares about LaGuerta and Angel's romance guys, no-one. This show's supporting cast has always been its weak link. They're all rent-a-cops with no draw at all. I think Desmond Harrington's Quinn might be the worst of them, with the charisma of a vacuum ( or a charisma vacuum if you will) and most importantly, the police stuff is just fucking boring, and for a show with two serial killers played by Michael C Hall and John Lithgow, boring is something the show should never be. Ditto all the stuff with Julie Benz's Rita, I know some people like the whole Dexter-Rita forever thing, but for me the show has always written their relationship badly, from all of her impossible forgiveness to the horribly simplified broad strokes in which the show portrays them together. But when Lithgow and Hall are together in a scene, none of this matters, because they're both so damn good. Good acting can do a lot of things, but save a show from its tritish instincts is something that it can't so that often, but I think it does here.

I think season 4 worked mostly around the thesis, the same but better. All the same things happened that always happen really, and the shows irrational love of its status quo doesn't go away. But this time it happened with John Lithgow, giving a performance that has finally gotten him some long overdue recognition, so it was OK. I didn't mind if the beats have been covered before, because they were never covered this well. Not up to the first season for me, but a step in the right direction. And the last two minutes of the year is an indication that they intend to follow through on this, because in order for this show to continue to have relevance it needed to do what it did. Sorry guys. Stunt casting brought me back to season 4 after the painful third year, but for season 5 I have been drawn back in, if cautiously.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 18 March 2010

REVIEW: I Love You, Phillip Morris

Whatever you're opinion of Jim Carrey, and it seems to vary from underrated actor who was penalised for being a comedian, to has been that should have just kept making Ace Ventura movies. I think I'm more in the first camp then the second, though I can be dissuaded. I Love You, Phillip Morris is one of Carrey's better outings of late. Its not the greatest of movies, having that frustrating indie movie inconsistency and using an intrusive voice-over as a crutch but for fans of both Carrey the comedian and Carrey the actor should each get their fix. And if this isn't the best of either, its a credible reminder of each.

Based on the incredulous true life story of Steven Russell (Carrey), a middle-aged Christian husband and father who after a near death experience decided to be his true self. A flamboyant homosexual, and when that is not enough, an ingenious con man. But the heart of the story comes from Russell's affections to his soulmate, the titular Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). The film certainly enjoys the con artist aspect of the story, and it doesn't skimp on the gayness as you'd think it might do. Both Carrey and McGregor give great performances, Carrey finding the right balance between extroverting the shit of the showier scenes and giving the character some actual dramatic credibility which I certainly appreciated. McGregor does good work, in what is essentially the girlfriend role that so many actresses end up having to endure. Thankfully too, there's a real sense of the romantic behind the style and flamboyancy, which if this movie didnt have it would be a little too much of the point and laugh variety.

There's fun to be had here, and while there are moments that clunk, moments that drag and ideas that don't quite work. There's enough innovation and confidence here to make this movie worth its faults. Its got a great, genuinely dark sense of humor too, which is great to see Carrey tap into, as there has always been a great sense of the slightly twisted about his characters.

Rating: 7/10

REVIEW: The Bounty Hunter

Rather then review the Bounty Hunter in a manner conventional, I have decided to be extra smug/awesome and review this profoundly terrible movie through the depiction your emotional responses funnelled through the genius that is Gerard Butler . You know, to bring some light into this dark world.

In you're typical pre-movie state of awesomeness:

After The First thirty seconds and you realize what you're about to go through:

Once Gerard Butler starts trying be funny:

On whether Jennifer Aniston's cinematic unapproachability is a result of her life or her plastic surgery:

On Jason Sudeikis' offensively retarded stalker character:

On how the movie manages to unashamedly ogle Jennifer Aniston at all times:

On the standard of the dialogue, and the prospect of it making you want to run screaming back to the ugly truth:

On the movie's patronising attempts to show some actual humanity:

On the horribly embarrassing Cupid's cabin scene which makes you want to die:

On realizing this movie is almost over:

And if you came with your girlfriend, the realization that she owes you big:

And if you came alone, that the joke is really on you:

Rating: 3/10

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Lost: Recon - In Which The Conning Will Go On Forever

A letdown was on its way after the last couple of weeks, but for me, Dr Linus slowed the pace down enough, this one really needed to pick it back up again. People seemed to have pretty much liked this episode, so I guess I'm a minority voice, but whatever I say what I feel bitches. While I like Sawyer the character, I never liked Sawyer centric episodes past season 1, because they seem to focus on meaningless cons which by the end of the episode don't mean a damn thing. Much like the Flash-Sideways this season I suppose. Josh Holloway was good enough, but I had a sizable meh reaction to Recon.

Off- Island

- Given the nature of the last couple of Flash-Sideways, it feels like we seem to be getting fan-fic Lost spin-offs. Handled with about the same amount of skill to be honest. Sawyer the cop, was OK enough, but since the story wasn't even about his copness, it was again about finding the real Sawyer. It felt a bit unnecessary.

- It all seemed a little rushed and pointless, and I don't know what I was exactly supposed to take away from this story. Although it was nice to see Charlotte again, Rebecca Mader ended up doing quite a lot with that character.

- More cameos, Miles was Sawyers' partner, and while the show hasn't quite known what to do with Ken Leung, giving him screen-time is a good way to find out.

- Sawyer arrests Kate. I was meant to be blown away by that I can tell.


- Another chill out episode, in which Locke's gang basically sit on the beach, whilst Evil Locke sends Sawyer to check up on the recently island arrived Charles Widmore. Some needless conning by a nobody later, the two meet. Sawyer sets to, yet again con the fuck out of everyone. Pitting Widmore and Locke against each other.

- Kate's face when Sawyer told her his plan was fairly hilarious. There's the dishonest douchebag I fell in love with. It was sweet.

- Widmore's gang has come with guns, so they mean to wage war against smokey. Don't know about you but my money is on Evil Locke. Like fuck he's getting killed by a guest star.

- Sayid seems to have stuck with his psycho vibe, clearly not giving a crap as Claire tried to kill Kate for taking her baby. That was fairly awesome.

- Kate seemed a might ungrateful after Evil Locke saved her from Psycho Claire. But she did zinger him pretty good later, after all it was rather insightful for a dead man.

- I think the biggest flunk in the episode was the needless connage from that random Widmore chick, what was the need guys. srsly.

- Despite having no Loyalty to Evil Locke, Sawyer seems to have put him in good stead against Widmore, sure he could give a shit, but the dude knows Widmore is there and that he wishes to kill him.

- Maybe its just me, but the con artistry has always been my least favorite thing about Lost, so Recon wasn't meant for me. But even putting that aside, it did seem to be holding up traffic a little.

Rating: 6/10

This Week's Movies

The Bounty Hunter: Looks pretty horrible right? Yeah. My completest attitude to new releases will be the death of me. Both Aniston and Butler seem to exclusively make shite so there's that. Did I mention its from the director of Hitch? I'll get my power drill. Expectancy level: 4/10

I Love You, Philip Morris: I'm at least semi-intrigued. I'll go in cautiously but it looks like the kind of Jim Carrey movie we've not seen in a while, in a good way. Expectancy Level: 7/10

The Spy Next Door: Jackie Chan gets wacky with a bunch of kids! Is it just me is there a fairly blatant paedophilic subtext to this shit. Maybe I'll have to see Hachi: A Dog's Tale after all. Fucking Dog's tale. Expectancy Level 2/10

REVIEW: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I think I made the point a while back that certain foreign films can sometimes be unfairly well reviewed simply because their cliches and faults come in a foreign accent, and thus are harder to recognize. And while the sniffier outfits have certainly been guilty of giving anything with subtitles critical fellatio, I don't understand this ideology. If seen enough subtitled films by now to not be phased or affected by them any more and judge these films on their own merits. And just as I was slightly bemused by the rave reviews Micmacs got a couple of weeks ago, I think its happened again here.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is not a bad movie, its just a little blunt. The film is a murder mystery at its core, and while the investigation zips along quite nicely, it feels a little hollow, and the climactic pay-off doesn't quite justify its two and a half hour running time, feeling a little so-so in part because the film took no real interest in its potential suspects beyond names on a piece of paper, instead focusing solely on the dogged reporter and his title character sidekick Lisbeth, played with a brutal detachment by Noomi Repace, is a side character in her own story, existing almost superfluous to events. So much so, that she is given a bizarre rape subplot at the beginning of the film, that comes and goes as if it never happened once she is involved in the main mystery. The film also makes some claim to be a character piece near its conclusion, but this rings false given what has come before too.

Maybe because bad TV has so cannibalized murder mystery, and turned even the smarter ideas into cliches, that if a movie doesn't come with another aspect to it then I'm just watching what I've seen a thousand times before with a Swedish accent. And that alone isn't enough to distinguish it for me. I enjoyed Repace's performance, but Michael Nyqvist's lead is a little dull just as the film can be when it overly focuses on him. It doesn't skimp on brutality, but that's not enough to set it apart for me. I came out quite disappointed. Which is a fitting way to end the review.

Rating: 6/10

REVIEW: Shutter Island

It's easy to see why Shutter Island got bumped from Oscar season. Not because its bad or anything, but its a film very much of its genre, very Hitchcockian in its fusion of thrills and psychosis. Nothing profoundly new or innovative is done, but its an accomplished, confidently told movie that always hold your attention. And if the last act feels a little too familiar, at least it was done in a way that didn't induce groaning, as the case can so often be with this kind of film But its nice to see a thriller so old-fashioned in design yet not dated by its sense of nostalgia.

The plot sees US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) arrive on an offshore island used as a mental institution for the craziest of patients, and of course one of them has gone missing. So he and partner Mark Ruffalo set about into the investigation and of course shit goes off the hook. Its the kind of movie that both benefits and loses out on having the Scorsese name attached. On one hand without his prestige, a pot-boiling thriller like this wouldn't have drawn the recognition and exceptional cast that it did but on the other this is Scorcese, the man who made Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, making a thriller that serves no purpose other than skeeve you out, and even if it does that well, why is this dude making it. Its a little unfair, but you know everyone with more then a passing interesting film is going to be thinking the same thing. Its our problem, but enough of us have it, it becomes the film's problem.

That aside, I have no real complaints about Shutter Island, it does what it does like a pro, its thrilling, creepy and insightful al when it needs to be and its more entertaining and smarter then most of its genre kin and contains a strong performance by Leonardo DiCaprio at its center, who brings, as he always does, a forceful intelligence complimented by real humanity. The best actors are always the smartest ones because they understand the emotion rather then just recite it. And you can always tell that. The rest of the cast all gets its moment, and Ben Kingsley, Ruffalo, Emily Mortimer and in particular Michelle Williams lend great support, and that's to name but half of the A list talent this movie has at its disposable.

Shutter Island is like a Brian DePalma movie with a greater sense of subtelty and a strong as balls cast, but the problems of familiarity and imitation never quite go away. This is hired hand Scorcese, no doubt, but he's possibly the greatest film-maker of all time for a reason, and even when he makes a movie for the paycheck, we the audience can still get something out of it.

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 13 March 2010

REVIEW: Green Zone

Green Zone might be the most openly political Iraq movie to come out of Hollywood thus far, in which the villains are the American Government, or at least yuppie scapegoat Greg Kinnear, and there is a sense of discernible anger to it. Its just not a very smart one. The movie itself is not all it could be, way too simple and reminded me a lot more of The Kingdom then the Hurt Locker, but it had something to say, and even if it wasn't said with the best elocution, there's something to be said for that.

The politics of the film are dealt with in the first half hour or so, before the movie becomes more about the chase then the reason for the chasing, and while this has got on more then one critic's wick, I didn't mind the transition, because whilst there is credit in what the movie is trying to say, the smarts of the politics don't really break past sixth form debate club standard, so I think Green Zone made the right call being an action movie with a little politics rather then a political movie with a little action, because it does one noticeably better then the other. As you'd expect from the director of the Bourne Ultimatum, the action in this film looks the shit, and the climactic scene in particular was fierce to the point where I forgot my slight sense of disappointment just for a moment. I don't think any director handles action with the same sense of sheer exhilaration as Greengrass, who can make any type of people in motion beyond awesome. As for the other aspects of the film, things hardly flow smoothly.

Khalid Abdalla's Freddie seemed shoehorned in just for the sake of their being a sympathetic Iraqi, which is a lot more patronizing then if there wasn't one at all. He's an actor I've liked in the past, in both Greengrass' masterful United 93 and The Kite Runner, but he felt unnecessary to the film to be honest. Damon, as many have said, is just Jason Bourne with a military rank, which isn't always a bad thing. I think Greg Kinnear, doing his best Carter Burke impression, gives the movie's best performance, with more then one moment of real moral apathy breaking beneath the corporate sheen, although seeing Jason Isaacs cast against his usual creepy type as a straight up badass was fairly awesome. Amy Ryan's journalist was quite extraneous as was Brendan Gleeson's CIA agent, although both were fine.

I don't think the makers of Green Zone would much appreciate me complimenting what I've complimented, but for those looking for a thought out, intelligent political movie dealing with Iraq will have to look elsewhere, yet those who enjoy their action with a smidge of political relevance will enjoy Green Zone, as did I. But it can't hold a candle to Greengrass' own United 93, or other less simplified movies dealing with Iraq, such as a certain multiple Oscar winner.

Rating: 7/10


When movies don't know what to do with themselves, its a very frustrating thing. Chloe is essentially two 45 minute movies, one slightly less mediocre then the other, but both pretty passe and useless in the parlance of our times. If Chloe had been made in 1987, and starred one of Demi Moore, Madonna or Sharon Stone. There may have been a place for it. But as it is, its another movie where the spectre of sex tears a middle class family apart, and while my fairly intimidating descriptive skills made that sound kind of cool, believe me its not.

The problem here is that Chloe almost backs out of the movie it wanted to be, and the arc of Amanda Seyfried's title character pretty much defines this movie. She begins a relatively empowered girl, with a capitalist's attitude to sexuality but having at least a point of view and a sense of who she is. But around the half way mark, the film loses its shit entirely and decides that the sexually empowered girl must of course be crazy, as she forms a bunny boiling attachment to Juliane Moore and the film becomes a dumb erotic thriller that would have felt outdated in 1989, instead of A B student erotic drama that was headed toward an unspectacular 6/10. And director Atom Egoyan, who made the spectacular Where The Truth Lies, shrugs his way to a paycheck, and the film is entirely absent of his usual visual authority. Julianne Moore, in the middle aged every-woman lead role, doesn't get much of a chance to do anything really, with the possible exception of the one standard scene of emotional outpour, and Liam Neeson blunders around, clearly not belonging in this kind of thing and wishing he were in Taken 2. Seyfried, to whom this film matters more to then anybody, career wise, admirably tries create character, and does well in the early scenes, effectively selling Chloe's front of serene calm, but doesn't really know what to do once the penny drops, and continues to play the same character. Its a shame, because in a good movie she really could have done something with it.

Chloe's indie credibility goes a long way to mask its sheer genre generic-isms, and I was certainly fooled going into this film, expecting something far more insightful and on a simpler level, just a lot less stupid.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Lost: Dr Linus - Where The Tiny Sociopath Shows Some Man Candor

I could have predicted a slightly slower episode after last week, and sure enough I was right. This was a small, contained character episode. The kind that has the hardcore Lost retort their way to the seventh circle of hell. But me, I don't mind them all so much. Particularly when they focus on the stronger characters. And Benjamin Linus is certainly one of those. So yeah, onward to the blogging.


- In which we see a softer, kindlier Benjamin Linus. The games remain, but this guy is capable of compassion and caring about other human beings. And Emerson brought the necessary variety and subtelty so we can see the differences between this Ben and the one we know and love.

- I have to say I was slightly annoyed by the lack of alter-John Locke in these Ben flashbacks, after the implications that these two would be friends. Lost should always be the Ben and Locke show when it can be.

- Having said that, Arzt. Again. I like the character, but these small world character reappearances are losing their impact.

- But having said that, William Atherton as the skeevy principal that nice Ben tries to blackmail. Fuck yeah. Fans of seminal 80's movies rejoice.

- Another thriller-ish B movie plot, but I enjoyed it a bit more then last week's. Mostly thanks to Emerson.


- Relatively quiet, we spend most of the episode on the beach with the Jacob crew, lead by Ilana, after Miles rumbles Ben for killing Jacob. Because he can speak to dead people. I keep forgetting that. Anyway, Ben got dissed.

- Then Ilana tied him to a tree and made him dig his own grave. Nice. Speaking of which

- Ilana watch - She got quite a lot to do tonight. Exciting times for the world's most pointless regular. In all seriousness, I thought Zulheika Robinson was quite good in this episode.

- But it was all about Ben, and the inevitable redemption of him. It seemed to easy for this guy to the dark side straight away, and I wouldn't count on this allegiance lasting for long, but I bought much better then I thought would. Any attempt to make this life long monster any less then such would just be crass. But Emerson pimped his sympathy for Mr Psycho scene and I am now fine with it.

- The evil Locke recruiting sessions continue, although this time he struck out. He averaging quite well though, striking out only with Richard and Ben and scoring Sawyer, Claire, Sayid, Jin and possibly Kate. Although I doubt the Kate or Sawyer stance will last for long.

- speaking of which, Sawyer is now a no show for three episodes. dissage.

- Enjoyed Jack's badass dynamite bit in this episode. That was cool.

- Richard Alpert actually gets some layers to his character, rather then just being well acted mysteriousness. Nestor Carbonell owned.

- Body Count - No-one. How sweet.

A slow, but rewarding Lost episode. Good if not great, but I enjoyed it as a way to a breather. Expect faster pace next week though. And hopefully some Sawyer.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 8 March 2010

The Oscars: Where James Cameron Got Beat And This Made Me Happy

James Cameron has had enough victories, including Titanic ridiculously beating the masterpiece that was LA Confidential back in 1997, so even those who like his movies can appreciate this little humbling. Did you see his face when the victorious Avatar techies thanked him profusely? Fucking entitlement defined. So to see Oscar pick the right movie certainly was a pleasing and redeeming sight to see. The whole thing was otherwise by the book, and everyone who was expected to win won, with the mini surprise of best adapted screenplay going to Precious. And behalf of everyone who had to suffer through all the crushing hype Avatar has received and had justly punctured yesterday... This day is our validation (until someone reminds us of Avatar's 1.5 billion worldwide, anyway).

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker (yeah)

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow ( The first female best director winner.)

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges ( The dude abides)

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock ( Kind of silly, but her speech was charming enough to make me OK with it.)

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz (Of course)

Best Supporting actress: Mo'Nique ( people expect me to have a problem with this but I really don't. Mo'Nique was awesome)

Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal

Best Adapted Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Next Week's Movies

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Its been getting some reviews to put the fear into Let The Right One In, as the Scandinavian movie to see. Very curious, to say the least. Expectancy Level: 8/10

Green Zone: This movie, in spite of the clout of Damon and Greengrass, has been delayed like a bitch. Now whether this is about knee jerk political panic, or you know, because its crap is left to see. I lean toward the former. Expectancy Level: 7/10

Hachi: A Dog's tale: For the title alone right? Seriously, fuck a world in which this movie can exist. A dog's tale. Hachi: A dog's tale. Let it out and let it in. A dog's tale. Expectancy Level: 3/10

Shutter Island: Looks like a genuinely creepy film, and there are never enough of those. Plus its a Scorsese movie, and thus its gonna be pretty good. Expectancy Level: 7/10

FOOTNOTE: Hopefully a belated review of Atom Egoyan's Chloe will be up midweek, once i track it down. I have leads.

REVIEW: Crazy Heart

More then one critic has called this film The Wrestler with country music, and well, yes it is. Pretty much. The same slow-baked character study, the same crucial lead performance. This is a ways off that film, but it certainly follows the formula. But any film that give Jeff Bridges a platform to be this good is certainly not one I'm going to be too harsh on.

Crazy Heart follows Bridges washed up country singer Bad Blake, as he is an alcoholic and asshole. In that order. Playing at venues devoid of dignity and showing a concept of professionalism that is less then strict, Blake basically is canon-balling to an early grave. Thank god journalist Maggie Gyllenhaal is around, with a loose concept of reporter to subject objectivity (worst euphemism ever) and a son with which Bridges can bond. To be honest the film goes exactly where you expect it to, and this film's path to redemption is much simpler then The Wrestler's. Where trying to be a good person isn't enough. Here it is, and it ventures nowhere near as darker territory. Still, there's the Bridges thing. This is the Dude here, and you know he's going to be good. And he is, capturing the right balance of hate, soulfulness and pathetic to do the character justice, all the while keeping it together and not OTTing the shit out of the part. Which certainly could have been the way a lesser actor would have taken the role.

Kudos too to Gyllenhaal, who has managed to take your fairly standard rent-a-girlfriend role and score an Oscar nomination for it. She is continually an interesting presence on screen and while this is far from the best she's ever been or will be, its good for her to get the clout to her allow more interesting performances to ensue. Colin Farrell, who can be known to take supporting roles and make them ridiculous, nicely underplays it here, knowing where the spotlight should be (on Bridges) A smart, controlled little character study Well acted and worth your time, even if it is not blindingly original.

Rating: 7/10

REVIEW: Alice In Wonderland

Despite clearly having sold out a very long time ago, Tim Burton has a remarkably untarnished reputation. He still gets 'from visionary director Tim Burton' in all his trailers and his name still pulls quite a bit of weight in the taste of indie girls and boys. But I submit to you that this guy is done. He's been done for the best part of a decade, relying on former glories whilst taking studio project after studio project, each glossier and more vapid then the last (with the possible exception of Sweeney Todd, depending on your feelings on that particular film). He still injects the occasional moment of dark humor into his films, but mostly they just exist to make money now.

Alice In Wonderland is certainly no exception. The same wondrous and glossy surface barely covering the sheer abyss of needlessness and emptiness. Everything comes and goes, we go from one miraculously designed setting to the next all the while not giving a shit of any kind. Much like Tim Burton to be honest, who certainly didn't say yes to this film on the basis of the script. Which acts as a pseudo sequel the the seminal Lewis Carroll novel. It takes that world's awesome acid trip for kids concept and shoehorns it in to your standard fantasy heroic adventure, in which there's chosen ones, sword-fights and battles with giant CGI monsters. So basically it takes Carroll's genius, exploits it and exports it into a much blander, much more despicable story. How is the director of Ed Wood OK with this? It reeks of apathy and paycheck driven film-making.

The film is just about saved from being an utter, horrific disaster by the actors. Burton's stalwarts Johnny Depp ( whose career is really starting to get stalled by his continual presence in shitty Burton films) and Helena Bonham Carter are as good as you would expect. Depp, who at first seems like he's just rolling out a less impressionable version of his Willy Wonka character, gives it more heft when incorporating a darker Scottish accent when the Mad Hatter is going all Psycho, which makes the performance occasionally darker and more interesting. Still not a patch on what Depp can do though. Bonham Carter seems to be channeling Miranda Richardson's Queen Elizabeth from Blackadder, but in a good way. There's the same notion of the entitled, spoilt little woman-child, and the same glee in saying off with someone's head. I also enjoyed, much to my surprise, Anne Hathaway's White Queen. Hathaway seems to have injected some knowing irony in regards to her character's ethereal knowing, and very subtly manages to be more then a plot point. As for the awesomely named Mia Wazikowska's Alice however, not so much. She's a promising young actress if her work in HBO's In Treatment is anything to go by, but here she's a little stilted and awkward, perhaps concentrating more on the accent then the delivery.

But my main gripe is with Burton, who has cannibalized a great work of literature for the sake of what looks good on a happy meal box. Sure it looks good, but I'm tired of that being enough for people. It certainly wasn't for me. I'm at the point now where Burton has to win me back over, as I go into every film he makes expecting crap. This time I got what I wanted. It did not feel good.

Rating: 5/10

REVIEW: The Blind Side

Now this is a UK exclusive, as this film strictly isn't released here for another couple of weeks, but thanks to a special one-off charity screening I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for, here it is. For Americans reading, a sarcastic big whoop is surely in order, since you guys saw this film eons ago, but for UK readers I must look pretty badass right now. Well as badass as a film blogger can be. Who just told you that is feat of badassery was something he entirely stumbled into, with truly no skill of his own. Oh dear.

The Blind Side, which rode the Christian advocate wave all the way to multiple Oscar nominations, is a likable film I guess, but hardly mind-blowing. It follows a wholesome nigh on saintly Christian Republican family who adopt a an impoverished black kid, known only from a distance as Big Mike, and nurture his talent for American Football. Its not hard to see why this film did so well, it caters to an audience Hollywood largely ignores, Republicans, and portrays them as well as anyone could wish to be portrayed. This family is so ridiculously warm and close-nit, at times it feels a little silly. Bullock is good I guess as the ball busting yet sensitive matriarch, but its a showy role with nothing really going on underneath. The 'give this bitch on oscar' scenes come thick and fast but Bullock plays the character in a way that you can certainly catch her acting. The film tells its uplifting story with little complexity and approaches both its comedy and drama with the same well-meaning but way too simplistic attitude. Quinton Aaron gets little to do but react to Bullock and co. and the film skews its focus from him and in particular from his less then hallmarky upbringing which to be honest the film keeps at too much of a distance.

You can't tell a triumph of the human spirit movie by keeping what needs to be overcome off-screen. Or you can, but as a consequence it is less useful as a film and more useful as a flat sugar-fix for the self-esteem. It'll make you feel better, but not for too long.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Last Minute Oscar Predictions

Because I've said all I can say on the Oscars, I'll just throw out the predictions and that'll be that.

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock

Best Supporting Actor: Christophe Waltz

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique

Best Adapted Screenplay: Up In The Air

Best Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker

REVIEW: Case 39

I've had some bad cinema experiences in the past. There was the time a projector exploded during a screening of Coraline and we all had to be evacuated like we were in Chernobyl (the remainder of which is melting its way to the earth's core by the way) there was a time when I had unwisely read an article mocking the latest season 24 and had the phrase 'the terrorists hijacked the radio-active plane piloted by Kim Bauer, targeted at President Palmer's Face.' in my head all the way through A Beautiful Mind and couldn't stop giggling. But I think this Saturday the 6th of March, 4:05 PM, at the Harrow Vue, seeing Case 39 was the worst cinema experience I've ever had. And I'm underplaying it.

I counted two separate groups of teenagers, landing at about 6 per group. Each as power-drill to the head irritating as each other. There was cellphones and Ipod's, a ten minute debate about whether 'Hailey' was a ho or not ( from what I could hear I've decided that she was, because you just don't do that when you have a boyfriend) and a permanent static of casual conversation that I'd say was in a regular speaking voice rather than a whisper, as is the custom for your average disrespectful twat. Three separate people complained, and three times the staff came in to give them the impotent evil eye. They give no semblance of a shit. They had the numbers damn it and they knew it. Then the shit went down. The two groups came together, and after minutes of deliberation, split up and went to sit behind the people who had complained, and then tried to irritate them into leaving. One stormed off, two stuck it out. I felt guilty as shit playing the blind-eyed passer by, but fuck I guarantee I was the only one in the room who actually had to review the fucking thing upon leaving, so you know. My guilt is relative. Some horrifying shit, right? The cinema does operate on a brutal code of death before discourtesy, and its counting on the fact, that at their core, people are more then moronic, apathetic twats. Called it wrong guys.

So Case 39, yeah it was a piece a shit. I'm so glad this happened in a waste of space like this movie and not actually good one, because that would be national disaster bad in terms of the world in my view. Which is skewered, but its movie skewered and even crap like this matters to me. Given the fact that I ate my space detailing the horror, I'll review Case 39 in 20 words below.

Evil Ferland will kill your family, wants a mommy. You don't care. Zellweger embarrassing, decline joyous news. Generic Jap-horror rip-off.

I played loose with the hyphens but technically that's 20 words. You can see why this movie was delayed for two years. The director Christian Alvart even managed to make the Quaid-centric Pandorum whilst this movie sat on the shelf. Telling.

Rating: 3/10

REVIEW: Legion

What a complete rip. Angels were promised, battles against heavenly hordes and angels were insinuated. But what do we get? A collection of badly acted southern stereotypes, generously performed by actors of second rate TV shows and Dennis Quaid sitting around a drab diner communicating man candor and then dying pathetically. Then there's Paul Bettany, who somewhat tragically gives a good performance ( well, for this kind of thing) and yet again finds himself trying valiantly to save a shit film from itself, and not quite being able to. Bettany would be high in the running for the best actor with the worst CV, and Legion being the stale, lifeless bore that it is, is not going to change that.

The plot, which is basically the Terminator if you replace the metal with angels, sees a mother of the future savior saved from one bad angel by one good angel. Bland gunfights ensue and nobody cares. I don't think I've been this bored in a movie for a long time, and I don't quite understand how that came to be. Its an action movie with angels and Paul Bettany for christ's sake. Also, this maybe the most retarded film in history in terms of plotholes. Accepting the fact that six million angels in human skins can't overrun 6 guys with shotguns, why don't they set the diner on fire. They don't even have to go in. Then they'd you know, have to come outside and you could maybe kill them. You are omniscient beings, not zombies. Why you so stupid? As far as the acting goes. it seems to be a running game of dare of who can be the most terrible. Of course, the force of nature that is Dennis Quaid wins by a country mile. He seriously looks like he was pissed off his face on at least three different substances when he made this movie, as he did in GI Joe and Pandorum. What the fuck dude. I think somebody needs an intervention. Lucas Black gives a performance that you'd expect off the male lead of Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift. The whole thing is a like a soap opera with the occasional bit of biblical apocalypse. Which sounds kind of awesome. Its not.

I guess things pick up a bit when rival angel Gabriel shows up ( The legendary Kevin Durand, Keamy from Lost) and he and Bettany do some passable work together, leaving you wishing that the whole movie should have been about the angels and not a load of space-wasting meat sacks. And Dennis Quaid, who should be defined by his own level of ridiculousness.

Rating: 4/10

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

REVIEW: Capitalism: A Love Story

So Michael Moore doesn't seem to have the same pull as he used to does he? Capitalism: A Love Story managed to pull only 5 screens across the entirety of London, and four of those were indie cinemas, so its safe to say Moore isn't going to be blowing the same amount of complacent minds as he once does. Did we tire of his smugness, or his methods? Or are his movies just getting worse? Well, while its undeniable that Moore loves getting up on his soapbox so he can shout it, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's wrong, or that it is any less revelatory.

I'm a liberal, don't get me wrong, but I tire of my ideological kin sometimes. With Moore, it is us, who all think that he is right, that have fucked him over. We don't like that he's abrupt, we don't like his directness, or lack of nuance. And for the liberal media, this matters more then you can know. It doesn't matter that he's pretty much the only prominent liberal film-maker that people actually listen to, or that F911 aside, all his subject matter is pressingly important. No. To us, it is worth our message not getting told at all if it is not told the right way. And while this gives us a lovely sense of superiority, it is not hard to see why liberals have a very insignificant voice in worldwide politics. Its almost as if the intellectual left don't want their ideas to break out into mass consumption, and to be honest this makes us into the elitist caricatures that the right say we are. The ridiculous thing is that liberal ideas are based almost entirely on common sense decency, and yet we have made these ideals somehow unappealing.

Look I'm a critic and if you ask me if Moore is as good as a film-maker as Errol Morris or Alex Gibney, I'm going to say of course not, are you crazy, and in sixty years his films probably won't matter a damn. But right now he's more important then either of them, because for the passionate telling of the right now, there's no-one better. In capitalism, as with all of his films, he doesn't present an argument, more a point of view. And capitalism is certainly a fine target for demolition, a system where greed and selfishness is not only practiced but also claims to be moral and just. Moore has not lost his ability to hone down on the truly shocking, and there is plenty of that here. From Juvenile 'delinquents' receiving grossly exaggerated sentences in order to keep privately owned facilities ticking over, to Pilot's receiving less annual pay than manager's at McDonald's. Its prescient film-making in an era where criticizing the great American ideology is almost an executable offense.

The film bluntly and brutally makes its point, and while I could have perhaps done without Moore's stunt on Wall street, which seemed to cheapen the whole thing, its nonetheless a voice worth listening to, even if he's not choosing the words we'd like him to.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Lost: Sundown - The Fun Always Starts When The Sun Goes Down

The last twenty minutes of this episode was Lost at its dark, character lead best. Sure you can shoot out theories about how the flash-sideways was yet again useless, but whatever. I would say this is the best of the season, perhaps premiere aside, by a long shot. And Naveen Andrews has never got quite the credit he deserved what he did with Sayid, who could have well been an extraneous character in this show. Anyways to point-making.



- Pretty disposable really, had its moments but not really all thought out and was more concerned with being synergistic with the island plot rather then do justice with Sayid the 2004 version.

- Having said that, Keamy. Keamy rules. Or at least he did once, when he wasn't transformed from uncompromising mercenary badass into a rent-a-villain loan shark. I still enjoyed Kevin Durand's performance though, and found something to explore even within this sanitized version of the character.

- After 6 years THAT was our Sayid/Nadia payoff. Again, kind of irritating. These flash-sideways are consistently the weaker half of the episode.

- Erm, it was kind of a B-movie thriller plot really, with no real payoff and kind of got sidelined in favor of on island action.

- Didn't really give Andrews too much to do in this half, but him and Andrea Gabriel still had a couple of moments.


- And this is where the magic happens. The darkest episode of the season, unquestionably and all the more awesome for it.

- Awesome opening fight scene between Sayid and Dogen.

- Smokey got to some clearing of the books. And most of the set-filling others from the Temple got taken to the cleaners.

- I liked that Sayid went to the dark side and Joined evil Locke's crew, and did it from his own self. Too many Sayid is Jacob theories spouted up too quickly and the Lost mantra seems to be don't pick the obvious route, pick the second most obvious one. And it kind of fits the arc of the character.

- I loved how Andrews played Sayid once he'd made his choice. It was perfectly done. Loved that shit.

- Speaking of great acting. Yet another great one scene showing from O' Quinn as Evil Locke, who gave so much gravitas to the episode's crucial scene, the temptation of Sayid if you will, even in the face of slightly hackish writing.

- "Don't stab a man in the heart before saying hello."

- Ditto to Emilie De Ravin, who gets more interesting by the minute. But this episode was all about Andrews, and in particular his scenes with Hiroyuki Sanada as Dogen. Sanada struggles with the English a little but did good work. Until he got shockingly murdered by Sayid anyway.

- Episode Body Count:

Dogen - The Japanese warrior monk was drowned in ' the spring' by badass evil Sayid in a way nobody could have been expecting. He felt like an all seasoner and that shit caught me off guard. So long Hiroyuki.

Lennon - The translator went down with the ship. getting his throat slit shortly after the death of his boss. Again at the ends of our resident Iraqi. So long John Hawkes.

A bunch of others - This was an important thing to do I think, with the season having a vaguely familiar captured by the others quality to it. Now that stuff be done with and we're headed to new places. Sweet.

- Ilana Watch: The world's most pointless regular had a couple of lines in this one and rescued Miles. Good for her.

- Team Locke = Sawyer, Claire and now Sayid.

- Awesome use of an ultra creepy 'catch a falling star' cover amidst the final surveying of the carnage, that hit home.

- Its amazing how Lost episodes that basically tie up loose ends, as this did with the stagnating temple arc, end up being the most awesome. Perhaps because by necessity things can't meander.

- Terrific stuff. Lost at its most vital. Even if it hasn't quite yet figured out how to blend its new structure yet, this episode at least promises that the on island stuff is headed in the right direction.

- One last plug for Andrews, the forgotten great performance of Lost.

Rating: 8/10